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Living in China, I was not surprised today by this headline: Recession Elsewhere, but It is Booming in China. Some of the details though took me back a bit. Like this–

For the first time, Chinese will buy more cars this year than Americans. Demand is so high that drivers put their names on long waiting lists for the most popular models.

And it is not just cars. For more and more consumer goods, China is surpassing the United States as the world’s biggest market — from cars to refrigerators to washing machines, even desktop computers.

Not really so surprising when you remember that China has four times the U.S. population, and surprise is dampened even more when you see that Americans are still spending more money for all that stuff, the Chinese buying greater numbers of cheaper cars and appliances, and–

Total consumer spending in China is still less than a sixth of American consumer spending at current prices and exchange rates. That is mainly because China has relatively few restaurants, hotels and other service businesses, even as sales of manufactured goods have risen.

Chinese consumer spending has risen, but savings rates are still around 40%.

Meanwhile, recent stories out of Copenhagen and the climate talks there include statements from both China and the US accusing each other of not going far enough with their proposals and not living up to past commitments. Maybe sacrificing some of this rampant consumerism would make it lots easier to meet a target of lower emissions.

And I would not mind seeing fewer cars on the streets either. I commute on a bike every day, rain or shine, and it is getting harder to dodge the cars–especially when they drive on the bike lane.

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5 Comments

  1. I heard that Jili bought Volvo few days ago,Preparing to get Volvo “Chineselized”,which really suprised me alot

  2. BTW The website is awesome! clean and cool

  3. I haven’t seen the sun in Tianjin since last saturday(Tragedy of the Commons- air pollution),it is the third time in this winter I cannot enjoy it for nearly a whole week.I sincerely hope that the government can impose heavy taxation on high-emission vehicles and encourage green-power vehicles in order (not only talking about it, we need radical changes) to improve the air quality.

    And one more question: How dare you(to whom it may concern) to deprive of my right to breathe the clean air.

    • Most of chinese firms claim that they have no money to buy high-price equipment to reduce the pollution or they will not sacrifice their economic benefit just for the enviroment…

  4. Who needs to see the sun? There are endless possibilities to jet away and enjoy sun-soaked beaches elsewhere, precisely because the US dominated “market” economy allows you to do so. There is no fault in buying a car, there is no fault in riding down a cyclist, unless you, and therefore your government, determine it should be so, and there is no fault in overt consumerism; these are the natures of the beasts.
    Copenhagen is a busted flush; no nation has both the power and the will to sort this out. There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from this and it is that natural economics, as an entity, must be brought to a halt; sadly this will mean war.
    I defy anyone to complain that their own right to clean air is more important than the sacrifice of many millions of people.
    Unfortunately there are many, many individuals, who claim purist “green” credentials, who believe fresh air and cycling may bring the world back on track and who are firmly in “my camp” as regards the environmental catastrophe that awaits us, but also have absolutely no idea at all about what this all means.
    My friends, we have all become too hardened watching Hollywood epics about “global destruction”. It is time to act, but put away the fatigues, the scaling ropes and the paint bombs. Now is the time to plan for the catastrophe that awaits, not to prevent, but to cope with it.
    It will be in your hands my children, but the battles to defend your frontiers will be in the hands of others.
    Act now to solve future problems, not to minimize issues we cannot control.


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